Hogshead (Illovo, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Soon enough, we found ourselves heading back to the King Shaka International Airport in Durban, and onward to Johannesburg, back at the very pleasant Hyde Park Guest House. After getting settled in and unpacked, and relaxing with a nice glass of Pinotage, we decided it would be good to head out for a nice light supper. Looking at the various options walking distance from the guest house, including quite a cluster of restaurants on Oxford Road in Illovo (side note: our tendency to actually walk to places vs. taking an Uber seemed to shock our hosts a bit; while Johannesburg is not exactly a low-crime area, Hyde Park is rather secure, well-lit, and well-policed), we decided to check out Hogshead, a local beer and burger bar.

Hogshead is actually a Durban-area chain that was founded in the early 2010s, and the basic vibe here is “high end sports bar”; Hogshead fills the upper floor of a building with both a large indoor dining room and a very large outdoor terrace, which on our May visit was the perfect place to sit outside (still being mindful to avoid a lot of close contact, since we were due to take a Covid-19 test the next day prior to returning to the US), watch the sun set, and enjoy some local beer. Hogshead had a respectable tap list, with both regional classics and quite a few beers from local brewery Brewhog (who, being in business since 1985, makes them one of the grandfathers of South Africa’s craft beer scene). And the beer was quite enjoyable, actually.

For food, Hogshead didn’t disappoint, either. Starting out, we did two appetizers from their wide menu: deep-fried pork belly slices, and deep-fried jalapeno wedges. Both were actually quite nicely executed: deep-fried pork belly takes a little bit of execution to get right: you want the outside fully crisped but not overdone, but you can’t really overheat the interior of the fat or it falls all apart. Here, they got it right, with just the right amount of toothiness while keeping a tender interior. The jalapeno wedges were essentially like open-faced jalapeno poppers, and they again got just the right combination of proper exterior breading while not over- or under-cooking the interior. I’d happily get these again.

For my dinner, I had to try a new-to-me South African dish: Trinchado. Showing the Portuguese influence in South Africa, this is basically like a stew: chunks of aged rump roast served up with a rich, spicy Portuguese white wine & garlic sauce. This was surprisingly good, someplace between a stew and Beef Stroganoff, this paired very nicely with the mixed discs-and-fries side of potatoes. Definitely a winner.

Carol, meanwhile, opted for the Hogshead Smokehouse burger: a generous beef burger, topped with smoked bacon, melted cheddar and house smoked pulled pork shoulder. Basically, your standard bacon cheeseburger, but both the meat quality and cooking (nice sear, juicy interior) were surprisingly good.

We really liked Hogshead, and if we were regulars to the area, we’d probably stop there a fair bit. Good beer, good pub food. I’d probably not come on a major game night, as I can see that the place occasionally gets extremely busy.

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